For the second time in about three months, the Las Vegas Convention Center is buzzing with the activity endemic to a major international trade show. And while November is when the automotive aftermarket has its annual pow-wow, January is reserved for the consumer electronics industry’s biggest get together or the year: The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES for the abbreviationally-inclined.
Ironically, the Consumer Electronics Show is, like SEMA, not open to consumers. However, thanks to the seemingly limitless (unless SOPA and/or PIPA pass) power of the Internets, there are plenty of interesting words and pretty pictures pertaining to all the cool new gadgets and services debuting at the show floating around. But you’re not interested in reading one article for hours and hours, right? Of course not. That’s why we’ve limited the following list to the 25 gizmos we think are the coolest and most likely to attain “gotta have” status.
Unless you’re participating in a medical study involving sensory deprivation (And who doesn't love those?), we're quite certain you’re aware that the Holiday Season (known in simpler, allegedly more insensitive times as Christmastime) is upon us. And whether you’re proclivities during this time of year lean towards hanging tinsel and trinkets on an indoor conifer, symbolically lighting one candle in a stylish candle holder every night, or standing on your roof in the nude while banging a tambourine against your belly and whispering your prayers to the Cantaloupe King and his Magic Curling Iron (We don’t judge.), chances are there will be at least some gift-giving going on, if there hasn’t been any already.
With that in mind, we’ve concocted the following list of 25 great gearhead gift ideas. They fall into many categories, and into a wide range of price brackets, but they all have one unifying trait: An ability to bring a smile to the face of all but the most jaded car geeks. We’re pretty sure you’ll find at least one item that’s a perfect fit for the recipient you have in mind.
It’s the holidays and cool tech products are always top of mind. One of the most exciting mobile gadgets to be released in time for Christmas is the ClarionMiND Mobile Internet Navigation Device. The name of the device sums it up pretty well. Clarion has released a gps navigation unit that also functions as an internet browser and multimedia wiz.
A bright 4.8 inch LCD touchscreen produces a great viewing experience for movies, videos or turn by turn navigation. The device runs on a Linux OS and comes with a built in browser, Real Media Player and widgets for mySpace, YouTube, weather and news. Bluetooth and WiFi provide connectivity and a 4GB SSD module provides storage with a MicroSD slot for more memory.
LoJack may have pioneered the stolen vehicle recovery system years ago, but many entrants are taking that concept and providing greater ease of use and flexibility. One such company is Blackline which is offering a device known as the GPS Snitch. The unit requires no installation, is small enough to be hidden in any vehicle and is easy to transfer between cars.
The Snitch is comprised of a GPS tracker, wireless transmitter, rechargeable battery and motion sensor. Blackline offers customers the option of being able to track online, via SMS or e-mail. There is also an application available for Blackberries that provides a special interface and a “geo-social networking experience.”
The Blackline GPS Snitch offers real-time automatic tracking, with a very low lag time of 20 seconds. It works in the US and Canada and costs $299.99 MSRP with service plans available at $14.99/month.
The new PMD-B200 Blackbird II from Alpine brings some coolness back to the portable navigation market. It offers a nice, bright touchscreen with an easy to use control pad for zooming in and out of maps, working the navigation menu, activating the music player and punching up bluetooth functions.
The unit offers both text and voice-guided directions for the US and Canada with 2D and 3D maps. It’s compatible with NAVTEQ Traffic RDS service (costs extra) which provides real time traffic data, filtering and auto-detouring.
The bluetooth functionality allows you to both make as well as recieve calls from bluetooth-enabled phones as well as sync address books. It’s a nice touch to have hands-free calling available in states such as New York and New Jersey with handheld bans.